$12,000 Loan
Author: Jay Molina

Chapter 4
The Z-Man and Holiday Chair

The Z-man and Holiday Chair

"You can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict weather"  

– Oukast, Ms. Jackson

            Marijuana smoke has filled the air of the living room.  The butt end of the blunt sits in the Playboy-bunny shaped ash tray, still smoldering but almost completely out.  It is dim in the apartment.  Off-white curtains keep out most of the bright sunshine.  A strand of white Christmas lights strung around the ceiling provides the only source of light in the room, illuminating the various posters covering the walls.  There is very little bare wall space because Miles and JMo had an impressive collection of wall decorations.  A poster of Bob Marley smoking a joint is on the wall behind the couch (JMo’s).  By the T.V. there’s a poster of Johnny Cash giving the finger (Miles’s) and one of two attractive topless women in a very provocative pose (they went to the mall and picked that one out together).  Adjacent to the couch hangs a huge Chinese fan (JMo stole from the Asian Club party) next to a Mary Jane poster (also JMo’s).  On the back door there’s a poster with a cartoon Uncle Sam above a game of Beer Pong.  That one wasn’t technically JMo’s or Miles’s.  It originally belonged to a kid named Cornelius Schenck III. 

            Reeves C was designed to be a 4-person house.  There was JMo and Miles, of course.  The third member of the house was The Scavenger.  Technically the Scavenger still lived there, even though he had not slept a single night there.  He was always at his girlfriend’s house just down the road, and would occasionally come in to ‘scavenge’ what he could find whether it be booze, weed, or food.  Cornelius Schenck III lived there for most of the semester.  He no longer did (his downfall will be described in depth later on).  Nevertheless his poster now belonged to his two former housemates. 

            Miles is sitting in a chair strumming chords on his black and red striped acoustic guitar.  He’s singing the words of some popular country song at a lower pitch than it should be.  He’s looking at his left hand holding down the notes making it impossible to see his face, just the brim of his cap.  There are a few guitars around the room leaning on the walls.  There are two small amplifiers on the floor near the electric and bass guitars.  The T.V. is on ESPN showing sports highlights from the night before.  The sounds of glasses and silverware clanging can be heard coming from the kitchen.  “Dude, did you know the can opener has a right and wrong direction?” shouts a voice from the kitchen.  “I just found that out!”  A squinty-eyed JMo comes shuffling out of the kitchen with a bowl in one hand and a glass bottle of Snapple in the other.  You can barely see his blood shot eyes they are so squinted.  He walks over and sits down on the couch, careful to not spill the contents of the bowl.

            “I’m pretty sure that people with the Munchies are responsible for 90% of the cool food combinations out there.  Look what I just made,” says JMo, holding out the bowl to show Miles a bowl filled to the brim with yellow, white, and brown swirls.

            “What’d you do?  Shit in a bowl?” Miles replies, barely looking up from his guitar.

            “Eggs, cheese, baked beans, salsa” proudly answers JMo, smile and all. “Think about it.  Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Dunking milk into cookies.  Chocolate and Peanut Butter.  Any kind of dipping sauce.  You’ve got to be stoned to try and combine those things.”  Miles doesn’t look up from his guitar, just switches his gaze between his left and right hands.  “And nothing is complete without hot sauce!”  JMo grabs the bottle of hot sauce (still lined up with the bong) and dumps it liberally onto his concoction, slapping the back end of it a few times to get more sauce out. 

            “You’re disgusting,” marvels Miles.  JMo opens up the Snapple and takes a few large gulps, reading the Snapple Fact on the bottom of the cap as he does.  “Yo dude, listen to this.”  JMo reads the fact a second time, not quite believing it.  “Did you know that Panama is the only place in the world where you can see the sun rise over the Pacific and set over the Atlantic?”  He looks back down at the Snapple cap, raises one eyebrow (he did this whenever possible to show off), and reads the cap again.  “No!  I don’t believe it.  That’s not possible.  I heard somewhere that Snapple makes up some of there facts.”

            “It’s true.  Snapple doesn’t just make up facts.”  Miles looks up and strops strumming.  “They’re called ‘Real Facts’.”

            “How do you know it’s true?” says JMo as he uses a fork to mix the different layers of his bowl of food into one brownish mass.

            “It is.  The two gulfs bend in around Panama.  The Gulf of Panama and the Gulf of Mosquitos.”

            “Ok you’re definitely bullshitting me.  The Gulf of Mosquitos?  You just made that up.”

            “I’m not.  Gulf of Mosquitos, part of the Atlantic Ocean,” claims Miles.

            “I don’t believe you.  I’m gonna have to check this out.”

            “Please do.”

            “All right.  Time for the computer chair.”  JMo starts to get up but stops before his rear-end is completely off the couch.  “Oh, but my food.”  He looks down at the coffee table.  “I’ll take one bite for the road.”  Leaning forward he takes the largest scoop the fork can handle and shoves it into his mouth.  Some sauce gets on his face and a couple beans fall onto his shirt, leaving two small brown stains on his white-tee.  He gets up before he even starts chewing, eager to get to the computer chair.  The computer chair was on the other side of the room across from the couch.  It was just a normal chair, but called the computer chair because the outlet near the couch was broken, and the power chord attached to JMo’s laptop computer couldn’t reach the couch from the other outlets.  And you couldn’t unplug the laptop, its battery life would only last a few minutes.  There was a trend that the things in JMo’s life didn’t work as well as they once had.  Most of his possessions were defective in one or more ways.  His car, iPod, computer, liver.  They all didn’t function as well as they once did.  Even his bong had some superficial cracks, and that was the one thing he took care of.  Those sitting in the chair had a terrible angle of the T.V. and couldn’t reach the coffee table, so it was only used when someone wanted to use the computer, or if there were no other seating options.  With a mouth-full of food JMo manages to get out, “I love having my computer down here. The information superhighway is right at my fingertips anytime I want. ”  JMo chuckles, amused at himself.

            “You’re a regular scholar.”

            “Ok, Gulf of Mosquitos, you say?  Let’s see about that.”  JMo opens up his laptop and goes to wikipedia.com.  All of the apartments at the college get wireless internet, but JMo’s computer is a lot like his walking speed, very slow.  So slow that he couldn’t even watch porn on it, which is why it was always in the living room instead of his bedroom.  Miles goes back to practicing the guitar solo he was working on.  He taps his foot to a steady rhythm to keep his beat.  The computer finally loads the page on Panama.  Wikipedia is JMo’s favorite website because throughout the article you look up, there are many keywords highlighted in blue.  And if you click one of them it takes you to an article about that particular keyword.  It’s a very convenient way to go from topic to topic.  It can also be very addicting for someone who gets distracted easily.  As JMo scrolls down to find the map of Panama, he notices a section about Manuel Noriega, a former Panamanian general who became the military dictator in the 1980’s.  JMo reads about Manuel for a few minutes before clicking the link to ‘drug trafficking’.  Drug trafficking leads to cocaine, which leads to alcohol, then nicotine, and finally to cannabis and THC.  He always ended up at cannabis.  “Get this.  Both alcohol and nicotine are easier to overdose on than THC.  In order to overdose on marijuana you’d have to smoke 15 pounds in 15 minutes.”  He laughs at how ridiculous that would be.  “You couldn’t do that if you tried!  Plus, you’d fall asleep before you could smoke an ounce.” 

            Miles has been ignoring JMo’s wikipedia facts this whole time.  JMo scrolls down the page and reads more about his favorite plant.  “Whoa.  Chronic use of marijuana can shrink your hippocampus and amygdala.”  JMo purses his lips and nods.  “Well I don’t remember what those are but they don’t sound that important.”   The hippocampus is involved in memory.  He stares at the screen for a bit before saying the line that high individuals say the most.  “What was I just talking about?”  Both JMo and Miles look up at the ceiling, trying to recall what they were talking about.  “I sat down to look up something at the computer…” JMo tries to retrace his steps mentally.  “Oh yea, Panama!”  He goes back to the Panama webpage and scrolls down to the map, ignoring Manuel Noriega this time.  After 10 minutes of staring at the map trying to envision a sunrise and sunset from a Panamanian’s point of view, JMo says, “Wow!  Snapple’s right.  And there is a Gulf of Mosquitos.”

            “Told ya,” remarks Miles.  “Point for me.”  JMo closes the laptop and goes back to the couch.

            “Man, I learn so much more on my own than in class.”  He sits down and starts attacking his bowl of food.  “And when I learn on my own I actually remember it.  In class you learn shit for the test but then immediately forget everything the second you’re done with your final.”

            “Oh yeah, me too.”

            “You can only learn what you want to learn.”  Several large forkloads into his meal JMo’s phone vibrates in his pocket.  He takes it out and looks at it.  “Uh oh, low battery.” JMo gets up, bowl in hand, and heads back for the compute chair.  It was also the ‘cell phone charging’ chair.

            “Can I ask you something?” Miles asks.  “This might be a little weird, I’m not sure.”

            JMo, standing in the middle of the room, says, “Try me.”

            “Ok.”  Miles pauses, wheels are turning inside his head.  He’s thinking carefully about what he’s going to say next.  “Is it normal to talk to yourself?  Like when you’re alone?”

            JMo gestures with his free hand and answers, “Well I don’t know if it’s normal, but I talk to myself all the time.  Even when there are people around.”

            “Good, that’s what I figured.  I just didn’t really know if everyone did it or if I’m just crazy.”

            “Right.”

            “Ok, so how about this?  When you’re in public, instead of talking out loud to yourself do you say things in your own head?”

            “Yeah dude .  I’m pretty sure that’s called thinking.”  JMo is still standing in the middle of the living room, taking a bite of food once in a while.

            “Right.  But this is what I’ve bee thinking about.  Ready to have your mind blown?”

            “I love having my mind blown.”

            “How do deaf people talk to themselves?” asks Miles.  JMo stares blankly at the ground.  “Because deaf people talk with sign language.  Ya understand about the sign language?”  Miles is proudly smiling as if this is a ground breaking idea.

            “Yep, my mind has been blown.”  JMo can’t quite wrap his head around the idea.  “Maybe they do sign language in their head!”

            “That’s what I think. I think they do this,” Miles flashes a couple different signs with his hands and bumps his fists together, a poor imitation of sign language, “but in their head.”   He grabs the remote and starts flipping through the television channels.  The Disney movie Aladdin comes on the screen, Miles leaves it on momentarily before going back to channel surfing.

            “Dude, every Disney chick is hot.  If you could have sex with any Disney character who would it be?” JMo asks.  “And the Little Mermaid can have legs if you want.  Or she can have a fin if that’s what you’re in to.”

            “Snow White,” says Miles with no hesitation whatsoever.

            “Yeah?  How can you choose?  There are so many hot ones.  Pocahontas, Jasmine, and I really like the girl from Beauty and the Beast.”

            “Oh yeah, Belle. Very classy. Snow White is my pick though.  Cause she’s hot and a little slutty.  I like that.”

            “How is she slutty?”

            “She lives with seven dwarves.  I mean, dwarves, that’s kind of trashy.  Who knows what she’s done with them.  She should be called Snow White Trash.”

            “I’d have to say Esmeralda from Hunchback of Notre Dame, ‘cause she’s a smoking hot gypsy,” says JMo.

            “Why are you standing?  You’re creeping me out right now.”  JMo looks down at the floor and sees that he is indeed standing.

            “Why am I standing?”  He takes another bite of food while trying to remember.  “I have no idea.”  He goes back to the couch and sits down.   JMo plows through his pile of food, while Miles flips between a news program and Supersize Me, that movie where the guy eats nothing but McDonalds for a month.

            “I’ve had it with breaking news,” shouts Miles gesturing at the T.V.  “News always has to be breaking nowadays.  Can’t just be regular news.  Everything has to be breaking.”  He goes back to the movie.  It’s currently at the scene where Morgan Spurlock is throwing up his supersized meal.

            “Every time I watch this movie it makes me want to get McDonalds,” mutters JMo.  “The first time I watched it I went out and got a Big Mac right after. Wanna go hit up the Dollar Menu?”

            “You just ate a pile of shit,” yells Miles.  JMo takes out his phone and looks at what time it is in hopes that McDonald’s (open 24 hours) is open.  It indeed is.

            “Oh my battery is low…That’s what I stood up to do.”  He heads back across the room and is able to keep his mind on the task at hand during his 10-foot walk.  The 21-year old sits down, attaches the phone to the charger, and puts the phone back in his pocket with the cord bridging from his pocket to the outlet.  It looks like JMo is the one charging.

            “Why are you sitting with your phone in your pocket while it’s charging?” asks Miles, a perfectly valid question.

            “Oh, it’s because my phone is on vibrate.  I’ve got to be able to feel the vibrations.”

            “Why don’t you just put it on ‘ring’?”

            “That’s too much work man.  You’ve got to put it on ring, then take it off.  This is so much simpler.  Plus, I hate my fucking ring.  It’s that corny default one.  Reminds me of waking up early and having to go to class.  I want to hear that as little as possible.”  JMo pauses and reminisces about something, chuckling to himself a few times.

            “What’s so funny?”

            “A few nights ago someone called me and my phone was on ‘ring’.  And without even thinking I just hung up on the person, like instinctively hitting ‘snooze’.”

            “That was me you asshole!  You could’ve at least called me back.”  JMo laughs hard for about 10 seconds before calming down and wiping the tears from his eyes.  When he has stopped Miles asks, “Why don’t you just change your ringtone?”  The two of them think about this option, a potential solution to the problem.  “Who are we kidding?  That’ll never happen.”  JMo shakes his head in agreement.

            After a while of sitting around, watching T.V., and ridiculous conversation, the phone starts to buzz in JMo’s pocket.  “Good thing it’s in my pocket,” he says as he nods at Miles.  He takes out the phone and looks to see who’s calling.  “Oh shit!  It’s Coach!”

            “Coach!?”  Miles has quickly gone from relaxed, feet on the table, to sitting on the edge of his seat, leaning forward in anticipation.

            “What do I do?” says a panicking JMo.

            “Don’t answer it!” shouts Miles.  JMo is standing now, holding the phone out like it’s a ticking time bomb.

            “I’ve gotta answer it!”

            “No! Don’t! It’s always bad when he calls,” tries Miles, but it is too late.  JMo has the phone up to his ear talking to the voice on the other end of the line.

            “Yes…uh huh…That’s today?...Ok…”  JMo suddenly looks at Miles.  “Yeah, he’s right here with me.”  Hearing that he’s been involved in the conversation Miles has a mini-seizure, flailing his arms about.  “Ok, see you soon.”  JMo hangs up the phone and a look of misery comes upon his face.

            “What’d he say?  Why’d he ask about me?  Is he furious?”  Miles fires questions at JMo. 

            “He was calling to remind us that we have our individual meetings today.”

            “Oh, God.  It’s all over.”  Miles puts his hands over his face in despair.  “We can’t see him in this state.”

            “It’s cool man,” JMo says, trying to console his friend, “I gots eyedrops.”

            “When is it?”

            “Now.  We gotta go.”  JMo starts for the back door without realizing the phone in his pocket is still plugged into the wall.  The charging cord isn’t very long, so once JMo tries to move our of the cord’s range the cell phone jerks out of his pocket.  Except it doesn’t just slide out of his pocket and fall to the ground.  Instead, the phone somehow whiplashes back (a physicist could probably explain it) and flies back toward the outlet, smashing into the armrest of the computer chair.  “Whoops.”  He goes back and picks up his phone.  The front display screen is completely cracked.  Usually the time would be displayed on the screen, now there is just a black shape in the middle of a white screen, like an ink-blot.  Add the phone to the list of his broken possessions.

            “Well,” Miles says in regards to the phone, “It was a good run.”  JMo flips open the phone to see if there is any other damage.

            “It still works,” JMo says cheerfully.

            “You know, you could probably trade it in for a new one.  I’m sure your warranty is still good.”

            “Nah, man.  It’s fine.” 

            They head out the back door of Reeves C and begin the trek for campus, the same walk JMo attempted this morning.  Before leaving, JMo grabbed his freshly-charged iPod.  The popular Outkast song Ms. Jackson could be heard coming from the headphones around JMo’s neck.  When they get to the Stairs they stop for a moment.  “Let’s go this way,” offer JMo, pointing to a slope running almost parallel to the Stairs.  “We have to go to the sports building anyways.  It’ll be quicker.”  The slope was not very steep at all, but a gradual one.  If there was no snow on the ground, you wouldn’t have any problem walking up the slope.  You probably wouldn’t realize there was any incline at all, that’s how gradual a slope it was.

            “Good idea,” agrees Miles, “The Stairs suck.”  The two begin their small hike, not realizing that under the thin layer of freshly accumulated snow was a thick layer of smooth ice, created over weeks of snow, freezing temperatures, and high winds.  The slope is comparable to a hockey rink on an incline that has just been smoothed by the zamboni.  JMo is the first to go down.  He slips and falls, but manages to land on his shoulder to avoid smashing his face into the ice.  Miles laughs and then slips himself, putting his hand on the ground to catch himself.

            “Maybe this was a bad idea,” thinks JMo out loud.

            “We’ve gone too far.  We must keep on.”  They keep shuffling up the slippery slope, trying to maintain their balance.  The length of the slope isn’t more than 20-feet long, but JMo and Miles are struggling to make it half-way up it.  At one point the slope increases a few degrees, and instead of making progress, Miles and JMo begin to slide backwards down the slope.  They try to move their feet to walk up the hill, but their wheels are spinning on the ground.  From an onlookers point of view it is a humorous scene.  JMo and Miles are trying as hard as they can to walk, but are sliding in the opposite direction.

            Miles offers and idea, “You’ve got to build up momentum.”  He takes as much of a running start as he can, and slides up the hill.  He repeats this strategy a couple times, and is able to make it up the slope to flat ground.

            “Nice.”  JMo tries to copy Miles.  He can’t execute the slide maneuver quite as well.  It takes him several slides (and falls) to get up the slope.  When he finally reaches the summit (still way below sea level) he and Miles high-five each other.  They start walking on a shoveled path towards the sports building.  JMo takes out the eyedrops and begins to try and drop them in his eye while walking.  It takes several tries to get the drops to land in his eyes.  After hitting his target, he passes the tiny bottle off to Miles, who follows suit.

            They make it to the sports building alive and proceed towards the coaches’ offices.  They stop when they see that Coach’s office door is closed.  “What do we do?” asks Miles.  “Do we knock?”

            “No, let’s just wait out here.”  Right then the door opens.  Out comes a kid with glasses and a buzzed haircut.

            “Z-man!” JMo and Miles shout simultaneously.

            “Yi yieee!” responds the Z-man.  He is a very generic looking human being.  Average height, average weight and an average looking face.  He is wearing a North Face pullover.  “Well…hello there,” says the Z-man, as he handshakes his two friends. 

            “Z, I’ve missed you,” says JMo.

            “Yeah, it’s been a while,” adds Miles.  It’s as if they haven’t seen the Z-man in quite some time, but in reality Miles and JMo were hanging out with him the previous night.  If JMo and Miles have a ‘posse’, then the Z-man is the third member of that group.

            “Yo, Z,” asks JMo, “If you could bang…” a short bald man who has suddenly appeared clears his throat and interrupts JMo.

            “Gentlemen,” says the short bald man.  The three college students go silent.

            “Coach,” Miles says and shakes the man’s hand.

            “Coach,” says JMo, and shakes the hand of the man who has interrupted him.

            The three college students and the Coach stand awkwardly around each other until Miles says, “Ok, I’ll be up first.”  Miles and the Coach walk into the office.  The door closes behind them.

            Inside Coach’s office, Miles sits down in a swivel chair in front of a desk.  The Coach is still standing, looking down at Miles.  “That’s my seat,” the Coach says sternly.  Miles gets up and switches to the other seat in the room.  He had purposely sat in the Coach’s seat to annoy him.  The Coach sits down in his chair.  “So how’s everything going Miles?” asks the Coach.  The Coach has the build of a bodybuilder.  His beady blue eyes stare down the college player.  The entire back wall of the Coach’s office is a window looking out onto the parking lot of the sports building.  Between the bright sun and its reflection off the white snow outside, Coach appears as only a silhouette to Miles.   It doesn’t help that Coach’s very bald head reflects even more light into Miles’s eyes.  There is more hair protruding through the unbuttoned collar of Coach’s golf shirt than on his head.

            “Mehh,” responds Miles.  He anxiously looks around Coach’s office, trying to evade Coach’s glare.  There are numerous framed pictures hung up around the office.  There are many of Coach with a famous sports celebrity, and some of Coach and his family members.

            “So how are your classes?” asks Coach.  He has yet to takes his eyes off of Miles.

            Miles wants to say, ‘Mehh’, but lies and says,” They’re going well.”  They weren’t.  Miles didn’t show up to class that often.

            “Here, we place class above sports.  Class above sports.”  Miles nods his head.  “And my rule is ‘No hats inside’.  ‘No hats inside’.”  Coach almost always repeated his last words.  Sometimes it was for emphasis.  Sometimes it was just a nervous-tick.  Miles obediently removes his hat.  As he takes his hunting cap off, he sees one of Coach’s family portraits.  Miles laughs to himself as softly as possible.  “Something funny, Miles? Something funny?”

            “No.”

            “No what?” Coach asks.

            “Oh, No Coach.”  When talking with Coach you couldn’t ever give him a simple ‘yes’ or no’.  You had to end it by saying Coach.  It was like Simon Says but without the fun.

            “It’s not an ego thing,” Coach argues, “It’s about respect.  About respect.”  He’s trying to defend himself,   “And we need to talk about the incident of you getting in trouble with a bee-bee gun.”

            “Oh, it wasn’t a bee-bee gun. It was an air-soft gun.  I left my bee-bee gun at home.”

            “Now we can’t have you sniping innocent students around campus with your air-soft gun.  Most players in Miles’s position would be in a real bind, with the silhouette of Coach staring you down.  But Miles is a great con-artist.  He has a way with words and convincing people.  Even Coach.  After a long friendly chat, Coach reaches for his drawer and brings out and article.

            “They’re opening up an Applebee’s near here.  I know how you like Applebee’s.  Here’s an article about it.  You can make copies if you want.”

           

            Meanwhile, in the hallway outside Coach’s office, JMo and the Z-man stand leaning against the wall conversing.  “Jasmine.” JMo had never seen the Z-man respond to a question that fast. 

            “Good pick,” responds JMo.  Jasmine was his second pick to Esmeralda.  “So how was your meeting?” asks JMo.   

            The Z-man’s eyes seem to look back into his own head for a good 3-seconds before answering, “Good.”  It usually takes the Z-man some time think of a response.  Miles always liked to compare Z to a smarter version of Forrest Gump.

            “Anything funny?”  JMo knew there was always something humorous in the monthly meeting with Coach.

            “It kept sounding like he was saying ‘Holiday Chair”.  The Z-man was confused by Coach’s sometimes-funny pronunciations of words.  “Over and over again.”  JMo laughs for a while, not sure why he was laughing, before Z busts out, “By God what’ve we done!?”  Approximately 85-90% of what came out of Z’s mouth was a quote of some movie, song, or T.V. show. 

            “Z, are you wearing cleats?”

            “Chea dude.” 

            “Why the hell are you wearing cleats?”

            Z thinks for a little and says, “Oh I wasn’t sure if we would have to practice.” 

            “But it’s like zero degrees out.”

            “Yeah, you know it’s cold when you say, ‘It’s going to get up to six today’.”  The Z-man’s voice sounds like that of a classy stand-up comedian.  Coach’s door opens and a bright light shines from the large office window to the hallway.  The burst of light gets in JMo’s eyes, forcing him to raise his hand up as a shield.  The light hits Z’s eyes as well, but he just squints in order to see better.  Miles walks out to the hallway holding a newspaper clipping and a large devious smile on his face.

            “How was it?” JMo asks Miles.

            “Whatever you do, don’t look at that family portrait,” warns Miles.

            “Well, last but not least.”  Coach, being the gentleman he is, stands outside the doorframe with his arm extended, allowing JMo to enter the office first.  JMo’s procession into the office chair is very similar to a man approaching the electric chair.  “So…I’m a little concerned.  I’ve seen you around campus with your hood, sunglasses, and big headphones on.  You seem very withdrawn.  I’d like to see a smile on your face a little more often.”  Coach is in his chair, beady eyes affixed on JMo who returns the stare.  JMo thinks, ‘Of course I’m not going to smile when I see you, Coach.’

            “Withdrawn from what?” JMo asks.  He was just playing dumb.  He knew what Coach was talking about.  JMo liked wearing his headphones around (even if his iPod was dead) so he wouldn’t have to talk to people.  They were currently around his neck.

            “Well, around school I want the team to have a good image.  A good image.”

            “All right.  We’ll if people see me around they’ll think the team has a cool image.”  JMo and the Coach are on completely differently wavelengths.

            “Clean yourself up.  You’ve got stains on your shirt.  Shave.  Get a haircut,” suggests Coach.  The player and Coach are in a staring contest at the moment.

            “I don’t get why this society is so against hair?”  JMo didn’t need any motivation to avoid shaving and getting haircuts, but if he ever did, the thought of annoying Coach was more than enough.

            “So have you heard back from the Peace Corps?”

            “Not yet,” JMo says, still eyeing-down the silhouette of Coach.  His eyes are hurting from the sunlight outside, but he fights through the pain.  The Coach glances away.  JMo has won this eye-contact battle (the all-time record was about even).

            The Coach makes eye-contact again and says, “You look out of shape.  You gotta make sure you get in that weight room.  Get in that weight room.”  Since JMo has already won the eye-contact battle,         he freely looks around the room, ignoring Miles’s advice.  JMo spots the family portrait he was warned about.  It was one of those professionally done pictures you take at a department store.  There is a lovely woman holding a chubby little baby.  They are both wearing white.  Standing over them is the Coach.  There is a reddish hue about him.  An evil look is in his eyes along with a sadistic smile.  He looks like Satan.  JMo tries to hold in his laughter, which brings about a series of violent coughs.  JMo’s holding the laugh in with more effort than he’s ever put forth.  His eyes start to tear up. 

            “Why are you laughing?” asks Coach.

            “I’m not laughing.”

            “You’re smiling.  Why?”

            “I’m happy,” answers JMo.

            “Stop smiling,” Coach tells him.  The Coach is beginning to become very frustrated.  “No smiling. Understand?”  Coach asks.

            JMo manages to get out a, “Yup,” without laughing.  Coach just leans forward in his chair and opens his eyes up wide, showing signs of being annoyed. Any colloquial form of ‘yes or ‘no’ was just out of the question.  He’s waiting for JMo to say something.

            “Oh.  Yes Coach.”  Sensing an opportunity of freedom, JMo stands up and shakes Coach’s hand.

            “And one last thing,” adds Coach.  “Try and spread some Holiday Chair.  Holiday Chair.”  JMo turns and quickly marches out of the office, giggling as he does.

 

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